HL Deb 09 July 1858 vol 151 cc1148-50

, who had a Notice on the Paper— To call Attention to the inconvenient and frequently harsh and unjust Nature of the present Law with regard to the Dilapidations on Glebe Houses; and to ask whether the Archbishop of Canterbury contemplates in a future Session, introducing any Measure calculated to meet the existing evil, said, he would not occupy their Lordships' time at any length. He had no immediate object in view, but only wished to direct attention to the subject, that it might be considered in a future Session. Their Lordships were of course aware, that when a vacancy occurred in any benefice, either by death or promotion, an inspection took place to value the dilapidations. The result was seldom or ever satisfactory, and lie believed a greater amount of bitterness and heartburning arose from this than from any other matter connected with the Church Establishment. The hardships and evils of the present system were manifold. If a clergyman, with a small income and a large family, found himself unable, after paying his expenses, and keeping up an insurance upon his life, to spend any money on his glebe-house, the result was, that after his death a demand for dilapidation was sent in, which stripped the widow and orphans of a great portion of their provision. If the successor was unwilling, from motives of charity, to press the claim, he had to make it good himself if he was removed from the benefice. In case of a rectory, the rector was liable for the repairs of the chancel, and if there was any land attached to the glebe the repairs of the farm buildings formed a considerable item in the account. Another evil of the present system was, that clergymen of large private means having small livings in agreeable localities, erected glebe-houses very suitable to their position, but totally beyond the means of their successors. He thought the Archdeacon or Bishop ought to have some control in this respect. The only suggestion as to a remedy for the existing evils he would venture to make was, that a diocesan fund should be formed to meet dilapidations, that every living should contribute a small annual proportion, and when a vacancy occurred, the architect of the diocese should report as to the repairs necessary. He would only express his anxious desire that the subject would be considered in a future Session, and he trusted some Member of the right rev. Bench would favour them with his views.


said, he believed it was desirable that some regular provision should be made for meeting those dilapidations, and thus preventing the injustice which was often committed under the existing system. He should himself be prepared to give his best assistance in providing a remedy for the evil.


said, he regretted that the most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of Canterbury) was not then in the House. He was sure that if he were, lie would be ready to express his obligation to the noble Viscount for having brought that matter under their Lordships' consideration, as well as to the noble and learned Lord who had just addressed their Lordships, for his determination to take up the question. The subject had not escaped the attention of the members of the right rev. Bench. A short time ago a Bill had been prepared by his predecessor in the diocese of London, for the purpose of remedying that evil, and that measure had been for a short time under the consideration of the Bishops this year. The difficulties, however, which surrounded the question were very great, and such as he and his right rev. Brethren felt that they could hardly surmount without some such assistance as that which the noble and learned Lord had so kindly offered. The principle on which the Bill of Bishop Blomfield proceeded was, that there should be some machinery established by which there should be a periodical inspection of parsonage houses, and some power should be given of rendering it compulsory on the occupiers to keep them in proper repair. The subject was a very difficult one, and yet its difficulties were not insuperable, as was evident from the fact that a system had been in force for some years in Ireland, under which glebe-houses were kept in a satisfactory state. He believed that the evils of the existing system in this country had not been exaggerated by the noble Viscount.


begged to correct the right rev. Prelate, although he should be prepared to aid in effecting an improvement in the present system, he could not engage to take the question altogether into his own hands.


begged humbly to offer his advice and assistance in enforcing the existing law, which he believed would be found adequate for every purpose. He, of course, did not suppose that the noble Viscount proposed to relieve the incumbent altogether from the obligation of keeping his glebe-house in repair.


said, it was the duty of the rural deans to inspect the parsonage houses and to report upon their condition to the Archdeacons; but after they had so reported, he knew of no power in either the Archdeacons or Bishops to compel incumbents to put those houses in repair. It was true that the Bishops could issue monitions, and bring the unhappy incumbents into the Ecclesiastical Courts; but if a sentence were pronounced, he did not know how it could be enforced. This was a matter which deserved the earliest attention of the Legislature; and, for himself and his brethren on the bench, he might say that they hoped something would be proposed in the ensuing Session of Parliament to put the matter on a better footing, and if any measure were proposed he trusted it would be received and considered with attention.


said, he was glad that a measure was likely to be introduced, as it appeared the matter had already engaged the attention of the right rev. Bench.


said, the real difficulty was a want of money. He would suggest that an insurance fund should be established, and that the parties to contribute to it should be those who held the great tithes of the parishes.

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